My mom gave me a basketball when I was four years old, and the sport has been a huge part of my life ever since. My mom wasn’t an athlete herself; she just wanted to give me opportunities through sports. She helped create teams for girls in our community, drove us to practices and games, and even managed a website that tracked our scores and stored pictures.
I credit her with the many ways basketball changed my life. It became a vehicle to a college scholarship, my gateway to traveling the world, and provided life-long friendships as well as a professional career as a TV sports broadcaster covering NBA basketball.
Because of my career, I’m in a new city reporting on a new game each week, which can be hard to manage. Luckily, my mother also instilled in me ways to stay in control of how I choose to spend my time and energy, even when my schedule pulls me in a thousand directions. Here’s what I’ve learned about making the most out of business travel.
When I was younger, my mother always tried to make our traveling tournament experiences enjoyable. If we were in Florida, we went to Walt Disney World. In Idaho, we’d take a trip to see the world’s largest potato. She knew how important it was for me to just be a kid, which helped me stay relaxed and ultimately, be a better player when I was on the court.
It’s still important for me to find ways to balance out the intensity of my job by taking time to de-stress. Just as athletes have rituals that help them establish a rhythm on the court or field, road-warriors — myself included — need habits that make them feel comfortable away from home. Part of my personal routine is getting a workout in before heading to the game. I recommend this to anyone traveling for work who wants to feel energized and ready to face the day.
In television there is a lot of pressure, so mental preparation is just as important to me as physical. Before you start working, try taking a few quiet moments to reflect on your daily goals and create a positive visualization of the day’s tasks ahead, so you can proceed with more clarity.
For anyone handling work pressure or an intense schedule, I also recommend making a conscious effort to understand which things keep your energy up along the way. For me, that includes eating a healthy breakfast with my broadcast crew before a big show, spending time studying game notes and clips, as well as appointments with my hair and makeup teams to get “TV ready.”
Lastly, music is critical to setting the tone for my day. I recommend creating playlists for when you’re getting ready as well as ones to help you unwind after work at the end of the night. Choosing to let these seemingly everyday things give me joy keeps my adrenaline flowing.
I used to play in summer basketball tournaments all over the country, and most days were all business. My mother would drive the team to practice at a local high school gym, then to a buffet where the whole team could eat a big meal on a budget. But after, we would shuttle back to the motel, stay up late laughing, wearing the free shower caps, and luxuriate in the complimentary hotel lotions and mini soaps until someone told us to get to bed.
These days the games and arenas are much bigger, the hotels and dinners are fancier, and the athletes are multimillion-dollar superstars. And with all the pressure, some might think burnout is around the corner. But I try to enjoy the perks along the way just like I did as a little girl, even if some of them seem small, such as free breakfast in the hotel or relaxing in the hotel-provided robe and slippers.
Long days of living life on the road tend to wear me out. That’s why after the game, when the arena empties out, the lights dim, and the cleaning crews work their magic in the stands, I switch my heels out for sneakers, hop in my ride du jour, and spend time with the people I love.
I always try to take an extra day or two to visit friends or family when traveling. For example, in December, I’ll be working at Madison Square Garden. For the first time in a while, work will bring me home to New York, so I can spend the holidays with my mom. And I plan on using this time to remind myself of the great lesson she taught me — that even though I’m always on the road for work, it really pays off to make it enjoyable.
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Ros Gold-Onwude is an Emmy Award-winning reporter with Turner Sports as their sideline reporter for the NBA on TNT. The Queens native holds bachelor and masters degrees from Stanford University and splits her time between the Bay Area and New York City.